This month we've been talking about building your business, lessons to learn from, and making it look more professional. Today I want to give you one of my top tips for getting the word out about your organization, a new product or service, latest initiative, or some other big news you want people to know about.
I first heard about this strategy in an interview Jon Acuff did years ago with Connect Faith magazine. It certainly wasn't the focus of the article. It was just sort of a side note in the feature, but it stopped me in my tracks. I think I literally quit reading and exhaled, "hmmm," aloud. It was so simple, but so remarkable for me as an event marketing professional. I started implementing it immediately, and never looked back. It was an incredibly effective tool for the organization I worked for at the time (that they still use), and it's proven itself time and again for the clients I work with now.
So, what is it?
Provide social media samples and images for your network of influencers.
Let me explain. You likely write emails, blogs, and social media posts for your organization's latest, greatest, and next big thing. You spend a lot of time crafting exactly what needs to be said, sending it out to your database, and posting it on your social outlets. If you have a staff or board, maybe you even give them a nudge to forward and share it. You're excited, and you know they will be too. You're gearing everyone up to shout this message from the rooftops! Perhaps, if you're a real go-getter, you even send a reminder.
But after the launch, you look back and hear . . . crickets.
Few people shared the message.
They said they would. They were excited. They had every intention. But, in the end, time or writer's block or a Netflix binge got in the way.
They'll do better next time, right?
Maybe. I'm not usually a cynic, so it's entirely possible. But I'd rather you provide all influencers with sample social media posts and images to make it as easy as possible for them to talk about what you've got going on.
In the interview I mentioned above, Jon stated that when the events he was speaking at provided him with posts he could literally copy and paste on his social media outlets, it removed any barriers to his good intentions slipping away.
Sure, you'd probably rather someone gush in their own words about your organization, but what's better: the slim chance that they might do it, or the high probability that they will? I think most of us would prefer the second option.
So, that's what I started doing and it worked BIG TIME! Awareness and engagement increased. Influencers thanked us for supplying them with exactly what they needed, and in the end, we reached more people, sold more products and event tickets, and gained a larger base of supporters.
What's an influencer?
This might all sound great to you, but perhaps you're asking yourself exactly who an "influencer" is and how you find one of these mythical creatures. Probably the purest definition from a marketing perspective would be someone with a large and established network. They influence crowds. These are usually big name folks.
Maybe this is the person who started your organization, a spokesperson, a celebrity affiliation, well-known speaker, author, or personality, and people like that. To work with them on the level I'm talking about here, you'd already need an established relationship. It's highly unlikely that you can just email George Clooney and tell him that your organization provides relief to third world countries, and by the way, you have a new product coming out, and would he post it on Twitter if you wrote him the samples . . . Ummmm, sadly, probably not. (But if you try it, and it works, please let me know!)
In addition to the types of men and women with large networks, I believe you should also include all others already in your circle. The "low hanging fruit," if you will. After all, everyone has a network of some size. And sometimes grassroots movements are the most effective. So, be sure to include staff, volunteers or interns, board members, event speakers, and anyone who has a vested interest in seeing your organization or event succeed. When you've made it this easy for them, you might just be surprised who ends up sharing.
What should you include?
As mentioned, you should include pre-written social media samples and images. The three I am typically asked to write for include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But you'll need to determine if those are right for you.
Here are a few other tips:
- Make sure all pre-written text is the correct length for each outlet. For example, don't send people copy that should be Tweeted about, but extends well beyond the 140 character count. #annoying
- Ditto with images. They aren't a one-sized-fits-all. Make sure you provide images that are correctly sized for wherever you're asking them to share.
- Write it from that person's point-of-view, when necessary. At times, it may be fine for everyone to say the same thing in the same way, but with some easy tweaks on your part, it will be far more effective. For example, if you're sending these items to event speakers, write it as "I'm speaking at..." rather than just general event info. (Or include both)
- Try writing two to five examples for people so they can use whatever fits their voice/brand, or can say different things at different times without just sounding repetitive.
- Encourage people to customize the text for their own voice or brand, but don't expect it. Some will, but most won't.
- Always provide a deadline or schedule, and always send a reminder. Again, people are busy, so if you're on a timeline, they need to be made aware of it.
- Deliver it in whatever way works best for you and your crowd. This may be via email, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Site, a hidden webpage, or something else. I would not suggest sending huge, mass emails, though. Segment the group as needed. For example, send an email to staff only, and don't include event speakers unless they are staff members.
Want to take it a bit further?
- Include videos for sharing as well.
- If the people you're sending these items to are also bloggers, you might even consider writing some blog posts they can copy and paste as well. (Don't forget images or video!)
- Ask people if there is anything else you can provide them with for sharing. Maybe their website has a banner image that can be used, or maybe they have an email list and would be happy to send something out that is customized for them.
- Host this "spread the word" kit on your website so that other fans can share it.
- Include a "spread the word" kit or just one or two samples and images in confirmation pages and emails to event attendees. (Don't give them too many items or they'll get overwhelmed.)
Anything else to remember?
Hopefully, you're excited about this strategy. In fact, you're mind is probably already buzzing with the different items you can put together, and how you can utilize it for your next launch. I can't wait to hear about how it goes!
The other added benefit of this technique that we haven't really talked about yet, is that this strategy allows you to control the message. Maybe you've asked someone to share about your event before, for example, but they got the details wrong, or didn't make it sound very exciting, or just missed the mark somehow. This trick ensures that your message is said exactly as you wanted. No more guessing. (I have a PR background, so this this method means a lot! ;)
Before I go, I do want to give you one note of caution: use this strategy sparingly. You want to save it for important things, not a coupon for $5 off an next order. Definitely don't wear your people down, or they'll be less likely to share when you really need it.
Other than that, there are lots of ways you can tailor this strategy for your cause and organization. And if you find a way to improve upon it, let me know!
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I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.